Larne manager Tiernan Lynch says League of Ireland legend Roy Coyle is right to make Linfield and Glentoran favorites to try for title success.
Ormer Linfield and Glentoran boss Coyle has dismissed Inverman’s title hopes as he believes the Big Two are the best bet for the Gibson Cup.
The most successful manager in League of Ireland history remains unconvinced that Lynch’s side can sustain the pace in the Premier League race.
Coyle, who won 13 league titles and seven All-Ireland Cups in his glittering managerial career, commented: “With no disrespect to Larne, I still have to convince myself of their title credentials.
“I believe it will be between Glentoran and Linfield at the end of the season because Larne have no title pedigree while the Glens and Blues are back-to-back winners.”
Larne will put their unbeaten record on the line tomorrow against the champions at Windsor Park.
Lynch’s side have not conceded a single goal in the league in 502 minutes and are top of the table, a point ahead of the Glens, who have played a game less.
Larne have been on top before and fell off, but there seems to be more consistency and quality in this group.
Their next few fixtures will shed light on their mentality – away at Linfield, away at Glentoran and at home to Crusaders.
But legendary boss Coyle appears to have already rejected Larne’s challenge.
Lynch, who worked at the Glens as a coach alongside manager Eddie Patterson, prefers his side to keep a low profile and it suits the club to have the big two in the spotlight.
If Coyle is willing to take the pressure and expectations off Larne’s shoulders, then Lynch is happy to do so.
“Who can argue with the most successful manager in the Irish League?” he asked.
“It’s a game of opinions. I can’t argue with Roy when you look at what he’s done in the game.
“We are focused on Linfield on Saturday and we will stay focused and work hard.
“I can understand Roy’s thoughts on Linfield and Glentoran, they are two sides you write off at your peril.
“I don’t think anyone can expect from the clubs in October. I am a shining example of this.
“Two years ago we were seven points clear on New Year’s Day and finished fourth.
“We know how fast football moves. The bounce of the ball can go one way and your confidence can disappear.
“Every day we will stick together and continue to work hard.
“Whoever wants to talk about us may be right or wrong, we will find out only in May.
“You can only say that so far and we’re doing well, the players are fit, but in tough times you face real challenges and that comes to every club and manager at some stage.
“When your backs are against the wall, you have to roll up your sleeves and that will show how good we are.”
As a consummate full-time team with a new street approach, Invermen must have suggested they would not be easily brushed aside this season.
And Lynch is certainly impressed with his talent and character in the locker room.
“The biggest thing is that there’s a real element of integrity in this group of players, they’re hard workers, not a group that needs a lot of coaching or encouragement around effort and commitment,” he said.
“From start to finish, there seems to be a real community with them and they demonstrate an excellent level of professionalism. Their diet, nutrition, things like that, everything is done right.
“I would say this is the hardest working group of players I’ve ever had.
“We had better players and we played some great football when teams let us play, but we could struggle in a physical game.
“At this stage, the team can be more physical and play a bit of football.
“We will improve as a team, we only have nine games and it takes time for styles and attitudes to work.
“This is probably the third team we’ve put together since we’ve come to Larne and they’ll catch on with time.”
A few more doubters have emerged following Linfield’s difficult start to the season and a derby defeat at home to Glentoran, but the trip to Windsor Park remains one of the toughest assignments in the League of Ireland.
“Linfield, Glentoran and Crusaders in our next three games, sure easy enough isn’t it,” adds Lynch.
“You have to play with everyone and it’s important to enjoy these challenges and embrace them.
“There’s no point beating the so-called weaker teams and thinking you’re something.
“You have to keep up with the big teams like Linfield, Glentoran and the rest, then that will determine whether you are a good team or not.”
Lynch remains a big fan of Jordan Stewart, a player he worked with at Glentoran.
The Blues have made it clear they don’t want to do business, but could a potential deal be revived in January?
“We respect Linfield’s wish that Jordan not go anywhere,” Lynch said. “I don’t know if anything will change in January, who knows.”
Meanwhile, former Dungannon Swifts youngster Shea Gordon says he has adapted well to life in the Premier League.
The Derrylauhan man arrived at the club from Partick Thistle in July after spending the second half of last season on loan at fellow Scottish Championship side Queen of the South.
“You want to get off to a good start,” he told the club.
“If you don’t do that, you’re chasing teams from the start and it was important for us to win games early on.
“If we can stay in and around it then that’s great and it means we’re not far off.
“It’s a new league for me, but in Scotland you could go to places similar to the ones we’ve been to so far.
“Moving to new venues and facing new teams is always different and challenging.
“For me, I’m just trying to make sure I have my head right for every game and be in it. You can’t take your foot off the gas here.”